In discussing films, there might be spoilers. Sorry!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

John Cusack as Bender ...

"Nicolas Cage was considered for the role of John Bender.  Bender was the last role to be cast and it was between John Cusack and Judd Nelson.  Hughes eventually cast Cusack to play John Bender, but Hughes decided to replace Cusack with Nelson before shooting began because Cusack didn't look threatening enough for the role."

~Wikipedia, The Breakfast Club

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Say Anything ...

As already stated in the first John Cusack post, Lloyd Dobler came in at Number 72 of all time greatest characters  beating out both Darth Vader at Number 84 and Captain Jack Sparrow at Number 87.

Tagline: "A noble underachiever and a beautiful valedictorian fall in love the summer before she goes off to college."

This is a little bit of a problem as Lloyd's plans for the future are a little less clear.

Say's Lloyd: "I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career.  I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed or process anything sold, bought or processed or repair anything bought, or processed.  You know, as a career. I don't want to do that."

He has a nervous talking thing, as his best friend Corey points out.

Lloyd Dobler isn't a "guy".  He doesn't hang around with the "guys" at the corner market on a Saturday night bashing the women they could never get in the first place.  Lloyd's best friends are girls.  He can talk to them, understands them and that is what makes Diane Court fall in love with him.

"The world is full of guys," says Corey.  "Be a man.  Don't be a guy."

A young Cary Grant - sans accent -- could have played Lloyd   Or maybe David Niven. Some old time Hollywood personality who would bring to the stage the same qualities that the young, still getting his bearings, Cusack has brought.

Because John Cusack nailed it in this part.  A love them then loose them, only to love them again situation and he nailed it with all the finesse of a Hollywood Star.  He created a hero that, to this day, is a role model for the hopeless romantic.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaNo: I couldn't resist ...

I've been doing it so many years.  The NaNoWriMo, I mean.  This wild, month long chase of a 50,000 word rough draft novel.  I can't even tell you when I started.  But this year, this year was going to be different.  I swore I wasn't going to participate.

I didn't have a real reason why except I was tired of the challenge, there were other things to do. A NaNo can be real disruptive to the household if it's not managed right and then there is always that feeling you get in your gut if you get behind.

So I was out of it this year. For sure.  No way.


I signed up two weeks before the kick off, now so excited about the story that having to wait to start typing until today was a cruel fate.  I read No Plot, No Problem - twice.  Read Ready, Set, Novel but opted not to use it; and I got my handy dandy NaNo kit with everything inside to keep me going.

And I bought the purse.  Um huh, You read that right. Every year I buy a purse that I really like and I have it shipped to me. Then I sit the box where I can see it from my work station.  If I pass the 50,000 word mark on time, I get to keep the purse.  If not, I have to give it away.

In my opinion the NaNo is a lot like this.  It's a month long game with yourself to see how far you can push to get the words out. Some days they come easy, flowing onto the page like a gift.  Other days it's like wrestling live chickens with too much noise and a mess all around.  Happily you can find yourself somewhere in the middle. Little treats help.  Little surprises.  "If I just get five hundred more words done I can have that latte from Starbucks."  Add a thousand to that and toss in a scone.

The NaNo is hard.  Very hard.  But as I have come to learn it's ingrained in my brain.  It's fall.  The Halloween decorations are up and it's time for me to start typing.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Better Off Dead ...

What is a teenage to do when his girlfriend dumps him for his rival, his dad thinks he's lost his mind, the paper boy is after him and the neighbors just got a hot, french exchange student?

You make one of the best off the wall comedies, one that doesn't even make it into the comedy section in later years. Video stores -- when there were still video stores -- filed it under Cult Classic.

John Cusack plays Lane Meyer, a champion level skier who just hasn't figured it out yet.  Until he can conquer the dreaded K12 mountain and win back the love of his lost Beth, he doesn't think that life is worth living anymore.

So ensues a hilarious half hearted attempt to be Better Off Dead.

A major element of this film, that propels it into cult status is the slew of secondary characters that steal the scenes when no one if looking.

*     The father who is trying to figure out what his sons are up to.  All he wants for Christmas is his garage windows fixed and even that is out of his realm of possibly. He does look pretty sure of himself though, when he dons the aardvark suit his wife gave him as a gift.

*     The mother who thinks TV dinners - as well as aardvark suits -- make wonderful Christmas presents and who cooks food that literally crawls off the plate and wanders away.  "It's got raisins in it. You like raisins."

*     The kid brothers who doesn't have a word of dialogue but captures our attention as he picks up trashy women and begins to build a space shuttle out of household appliances.

*     And who could forget the paper boy.  Tough and ready, with his gang of black clad paper boys racing after Lane calling out his "Two dollars.  I want my two dollars."

It's the paperboy who chases Lane down the K12 and into the arms of his true love. Not the fickle Beth who he thought he wanted.  But, Monique,  the french exchange student living across the street. She's got a mean pitching arm, a love of the Dodgers and the best advice Lane gets in the whole movie: "I think you need just a small taste of success and you will find it suits you."

"Gee, I'm real sorry your Mom blew up, Ricky."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame ...

And too prove my point of what a great actor Mr. Cusack is, he received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this last April, 2012.

Billy Bob Thronton, Jack Black, Dan Aykroyd, John's sister Joan, along with family and friends joined the crowd for the unveiling. Some even spoke on John's behalf.

Joan, who has co starred with John in numerous productions  (Say Anything..., Grosse Point Blank, War, Inc, to name a few) led in a presentation speech that spoke of laughs and admiration for her kid brother.

"He's a cross between "It's a Wonderful Life, Dr. Strangelove and It's a Charlie Brown Christmas," she said.

Later that evening, while visiting on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Mr. Cusack said: "My star is right next to the singing cowboy Gene Autry, which is pretty cool, right?"

Friday, October 19, 2012

Introducing John Cusack ....

Poor Matt Damon.  The actual winner of the poll last year to see who came next.  It was never my intentions to skip him again -- he's a great actor and I love his work.  But these last two weekends, when I found myself watching back to back to back John Cusack movies, I knew I might have to change the order of things again.

John Cusack is an amazing actor,  going back to just about that time I started going to the movies regularly.   "I was a teenager when they started making movies about teenagers," he says. Class, Sixteen Candles, The Sure Thing.  I credit talent to go with his luck.

He was Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything ... number 72 on Premier Magazine's 100 Greatest Characters ever created.  He was Lane Meyer in Better Off Dead, a movie so off the beaten track it is now filed under Cult Classics. He had roles in Journey of Natty Gann and Stand by Me. Bullets Over Broadway, Grosse Point Blank, ConAir ... he has been working steady since the early eighties and rarely disappointing.

So I am sorry to Matt Damon.  He will get his time, I am sure.  But for now, I think I want to spend a few months catching up on John Cusack's catalog and seeing what movies are in store for me.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Summing up James McAvoy ...

When people think James McAvoy, I think, in the past, they have tended to think of period pieces: such as Becoming Jane, where costume and background make up a significant aspect of the film. He is excellent in these roles, stepping into the parts like no one else can.

Then we see Wanted, an action movie pure and simple and the fit is just as good.  With the introduction of Professor X in the new X-Man franchise, McAvoy has proven his range. He is a working actor across the board, tackling serious roles that break our heart (Atonement) to playing an animated gnome fighting Shakespearean battles. (Gnomeo and Juliet).

I liked watching Mr. McAvoy's movies.  There wasn't one I didn't enjoy.  There were a couple I didn't watch on the mere fact the previews scared me (Swimming Pool) or the movie looked too intense with more then hints at violence (King of Scotland).  I'm told it's one of his best performances, though and I did miss out.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


To hear Mr. McAvoy talk about playing Wesley, follow this link:


James McAvoy plays Wesley Gibson - neurotic to the point of physical angst. He's got a standing order at a pharmacy for his anxiety pills and has to use a special keyboard for his reoccurring injury due to stress. His girlfriend leaves much to be desired and his best friend could also be his worst enemy.
Enter Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman -- who inform Wesley that his neuroses are not a genetic defect but a genetic blessing. Wesley is a natural born assassin, part of a fraternity of assassins.  They take him in, train him to be like them and set him up to do bad things he never would have done.

This is a very different role for McAvoy.  There are no period costumes, no girl waiting for the slightest bit of affection.  More action hero then ever before, WANTED is a fast paced ride with the minimal of love interest. Where reality is suspended and where bullets in motion can bend to find impossible targets.

Monday, January 16, 2012

James McAvoy in The Conspirator ...

The critics reviews were not kind. The accusations of the director, Robert Redford, using history to push his own message seemed harsh. No one seemed to look at the performances, the costumes, the story in itself - which is moving enough to deserve its own film.

Because regardless of what the agenda for the film might have been or what any critic had to say The Conspirator was a masterpiece of film in both visual effects and stellar performances from Robin Wright, Kevin Kline and Tom Wilkinson, to name a few.

And of course, James McAvoy, carrying the film from it's opening war torn scene to the sad moment at the end when he realized his fight for justice had all been for nothing, the moment when he looks out the cell window and sees four nooses:

"There's supposed to be three ..."

McAvoy plays Frederic Atkins, decorated Northern war hero and defense attorney. With his own beliefs against the accused, Mary Surratt, pushed aside by his superior, Atkins is forced to take on the conspirator's case. From the onset he is reluctant to represent Mrs. Surratt and takes the case only at the insistence of his superior, played by Tom Wilkinson.

Seeing McAvoy play a period piece is, as we have seen, not out of the ordinary. Seeing him play someone other than a love interest, is. Though he starts off the movie engaged to Sarah Weston (Alexis Bledel) it was a relationship in the background that was not able to withstand the prejudice of a slain president and the woman on trial for the planning of that assassination. Atkins stayed true to his duty as lawyer while friends, associates, - even the woman he loved- turned from him, leaving him alone to face the hardships of a trial stacked against him, one hell bent on a guilty verdict from the get go.

McAvoy plays Atkins as he plays all his characters: with thoroughness that creates a fictional characters in 3 D reality. He becomes Atkins and he takes the viewer with him, showing us a side of American history we may not already know.

The Conspirator, a beautifully executed film, worthy of the director, the cast and anyone else who was a part of bringing it to the screen.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Moving on in 2012 ...

We finished the Nano. Got done with Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now the New Year is arrived and I am feeling the urge to move on to new things. If I am not mistaken Matt Damon won the poll as actor of choice before James McAvoy took cuts. Yes, I have to admit it was McAvoy's performance in X-Men, a movie I kept going back to see, that gave him the privilege of going ahead of Damon. Then again, I saw Fright Night a few weeks ago and it was a ton of fun to watch Collin Farrell play a blood sucking fiend. He was on that poll with Damon and Damon did come out ahead.

Tough decision here.

But one I will have to make. I will finish out the last couple McAvoy's films I wanted to talk about and then pick who we will be watching next. Feel free to vote and let me know what you think! I always welcome a second opinion!!